French Village Canters to Susan's Girl Win

(from Calder track report)
Laura and Eugene Melnyk's French Village remained perfect in her career, winning for the third time at Calder Race Course on Saturday while taking the $125,000 Susan's Girl Division of the Florida Stallion Stakes.

Trained by Bill White, the 2-yar-old filly French Village won the $75,000 Desert Vixen division in her last start, which puts her two-thirds of the way to a sweep of the FSS series, which culminates on Oct. 11 with the $400,000 My Dear Girl Division. Only one filly has ever won the three races in the 21 years of the FSS program: Nancy's Glitter in 1997.

"Now it gets interesting," White said. "When 2-year-olds go two turns for the first time (the My Dear Girl at 1 1/16 mile), you're in 'no man's' land.

"My challenge is that she's a light-bodied filly that you don't want to train hard. She only had one five-eighths work since her last race. So I'll have to balance between not training her too hard and yet keep her fit enough."

Sent off as the 1-to-5 favorite, French Village made it look easy. Ridden by Gary Boulanger, she raced alongside Family Favorite, the 9-to-2 second choice, until putting her away at the quarter pole. A mild challenge came from Chatter Chatter, a former White trainee, down the stretch but French Village was much the best, covering the seven furlongs in 1:25 4/5. She paid $2.40, 2.20, 2.10.

"She kind of gave me a scare coming out of there (starting gate)," said Boulanger. "She broke really hard to the outside. Then (One Smart Lady) kind of stumbled and I was right back in position. That's the first sign of a good horse – when they can overcome adversity and put themselves back in the race without having to do anything but hang on to her. From there, I just nursed her along as long as I wanted."

(Chart, Equibase)